Serena Williams was unable to summon the old magic as her Wimbledon return ended in a first-round defeat to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan.

Stepping out on court to play singles for the first time since leaving Centre Court prematurely and in tears after suffering a hamstring injury in the opening round 12 months ago, Williams was rusty and error-prone.

The will remained and, cheered on by a supportive crowd, she looked like she might stumble over the finish line after coming from a set down and then saving a match point in the 12th game of the decider.

But instead Williams suffered just her third first-round loss at a grand slam, going down 7-5 1-6 7-6 (7) in a deciding tie-break at 10.35pm after three hours and 10 minutes in what could well be her Wimbledon farewell.

Tan, a 24-year-old debutante ranked 115, is the type of player Williams used to beat before even stepping on court but no one, including probably the 40-year-old herself, knew what to expect here.

Williams was rusty in the extreme in the first two games, her footwork leaden and her ball-striking wayward, but she gradually began to find some rhythm.

The American was particularly vocal, shrieking at every winner and error, and it worked as she moved into a 4-2 lead.

But the main question mark was always going to be around Williams’ fitness and she was puffing hard as Tan eventually broke back after a long service game.

The Frenchwoman could not hope to match her opponent for power but had considerable success with deft drop shots and lobs and looked to be enjoying herself as she moved into a 6-5 lead.

Williams had a chance to draw level and force a tie-break but looked anxious and was unable to convert as Tan moved ahead.

With darkness closing in, a brief pause for the roof to be closed worked in Williams’ favour. She cut out some of the errors, and the shrieking, and set about retrieving the deficit, breaking Tan in the second game of the set after a remarkable run of 12 deuces.

When Williams, who won the last of her seven singles titles here in 2016, moved 3-1 ahead in the deciding set, it appeared the hard part was behind her.

But two doubles matches in Eastbourne last week were scant preparation for a return to grand slam singles and things became complicated once again.

Williams began to show her emotions once more, leaping to celebrate the good moments and waving her arms in despair at the bad.

She slid deeper into trouble after failing to serve out the match at 5-4 but put away a drive volley to save a match point at 5-6 and force a deciding first-to-10-points tie-break.

Williams moved into a 4-0 lead but, on the stage where she has triumphed on so many occasions, this time there was not to be a happy ending.



Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is to leave his role as technical and performance advisor following the arrival of new owners at the club.

Cech spent 11 seasons as a player at Stamford Bridge before returning after a spell at Arsenal to take up his current role in 2019.

There have been a number of key changes following the takeover by the Todd Boehly-led consortium, which ended Roman Abramovich’s 19-year tenure following his sanctioning by the Government for his ties to Vladimir Putin after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chelsea announced last week that chairman Bruce Buck would step down at the end of the month, taking up a position as senior advisor, while sporting director Marina Granovskaia is also moving on, although she too will remain in an advisory capacity for the duration of the transfer window.

Boehly has assumed interim sporting director duties until a full-time replacement can be found.

“It has been a huge privilege to perform this role at Chelsea for the past three years,” Cech said in a statement.

“With the club under new ownership, I feel now is the right time for me to step aside.

“I am pleased that the club is now in an excellent position with the new owners, and I am confident of its future success both on and off the pitch.”

Cech will leave his role on June 30 and Boehly, chairman and co-controlling owner, said: “Petr is an important member of the Chelsea family.

“We understand his decision to step away and thank him for his contributions as an advisor and his commitment to the club and to our community.

“We wish him the best.”



Arsenal have confirmed the signing of United States international goalkeeper Matt Turner from New England Revolution.

The 28-year-old was widely expected to complete the move after the Major League Soccer side announced an agreement with the Gunners as early as February.

Now the deal has been confirmed by Arsenal, with Turner becoming their third summer signing following moves for young Brazilian forward Marquinhos and Portugal Under-21 international Fabio Vieira.

“Matt is an experienced goalkeeper who will bring high quality to our squad,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“He has shown with his performances in recent years in both the MLS and at international level with the United States that he is a goalkeeper who will give us added strength going into next season.

“We welcome Matt and his family to the club and we look forward to working together in the years to come.”

Turner’s arrival casts further doubt over Bernd Leno’s future at the Emirates Stadium, the Germany international having lost the number-one spot to Aaron Ramsdale after his arrival from Sheffield United last summer.

Leno has been linked with newly-promoted Fulham, with Turner now expected to play the role of back-up to Ramsdale.

Turner joined the Revolution in 2016 and has made more then 100 appearances for the club, picking up 18 senior caps for the United States and playing his part in helping Gregg Berhalter’s side qualify for the 2022 World Cup, where they will face England and Wales in the group stages.

Arsenal’s summer business is likely to continue in the coming days, with Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus reportedly closing in on a move to north London, while Leeds forward Raphina has also been linked.

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Wales forward Gareth Bale has confirmed he is set to join Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC when his contract with Real Madrid expires.

The five-time Champions League winner is soon to be a free agent and is looking for a new club ahead of playing for Wales at the World Cup in Qatar, which starts in November.

Bale, 32, had been linked with a move to hometown club Cardiff following the end of a nine-year stay at the Bernabeu, but will now continue his career with a switch to the United States.

The Wales captain confirmed his move to LAFC, currently top of Major League Soccer’s Western Conference, via his official Twitter account.

Bale wrote: “See you soon, Los Angeles. @LAFC ” with a video of him in a club shirt and cap.

The Welsh forward is thought to have agreed an initial one-year deal, which includes the option of an 18-month contract extension and will see him join former Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini as part of the LAFC squad.

Bale and Chiellini should complete their moves to MLS when the competition’s ‘Secondary Transfer Window’ opens on July 7th, so would be cleared to make a debut against the LA Galaxy.

Last week, Bale had excited Cardiff fans by visiting the Sky Bet Championship club’s Vale of Glamorgan base on their first day of pre-season training.

Wales captain Bale had fuelled speculation he might prefer being closer to home following comments that the standard of football he played before the World Cup should not prove a decisive factor in any move.

It is understood Bale – reportedly having earned around £600,000 per week at Real Madrid – had several options on the table, with former club Tottenham and big-spending Newcastle also suggested as potential destinations.

Speaking while on recent international duty with Wales, Bale said: “I don’t really know if the standard makes too much of a difference. A football game is a football game.

“I feel like I’ll never really lose my quality on the ball. I guess it’s a conversation to be had.

“I need time to think what’s the best move for me, my family, my kids, and hopefully we’ll sort that over the summer. I have options.”

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Vincent Kompany has completed his first signing as Burnley boss with the arrival of midfielder Scott Twine from MK Dons.

Twine, 22, has put pen to paper on a four-year contract after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee.

Burnley said on their official website: “Burnley Football Club are delighted to confirm the signing of Scott Twine on a four-year contract from MK Dons for an undisclosed fee.”

Twine was named League One player of the year last season after the Dons lost out to Wycombe in the play-off semi-finals.

Kompany said: “We are delighted to have brought Scott to the club. He’s an exciting young player that will help us in the short-term process and in the long-term project at Burnley Football Club.

“He’s a player we have looked at for a little while now, we know he can score goals and affect games. We’re glad to welcome him to the squad.”

Twine scored 20 league goals and made 13 assists last season, making 50 appearances in all competitions for the Dons after joining from Swindon for an undisclosed fee in June last year.

He added: “I’m buzzing. I have definitely made the right decision joining Burnley.

“I spoke in depth with the manager and his plans are exciting. It was a no-brainer for me to sign. I can’t wait to get started and it feels like the right place for me.”

Burnley, bidding to bounce straight back to the Premier League following relegation, appointed Kompany as Sean Dyche’s permanent replacement earlier this month.



Romelu Lukaku will return to Inter Milan on a one-year loan deal, the PA news agency understands.

Inter chiefs are thought to have struck an €8 million loan fee with the Blues, with Lukaku understood to have taken a pay cut to leave Stamford Bridge.

The Belgium striker only joined Chelsea in a club-record £98 million deal last summer, but a number of controversies strained relations with the Blues.

Chelsea’s new co-owner Todd Boehly has put an immediate stamp on his tenure by giving the green light for Lukaku’s return to Inter.

US magnate Boehly has backed manager Thomas Tuchel over the decision to let Lukaku return to Italy.

And once the 29-year-old’s Inter return is officially complete, the Blues will be able to turn attentions to wider transfer business.

Chelsea will set about seeking a replacement, with the club understood to remain keen on Robert Lewandowski despite the Poland hitman’s desire to swap Bayern Munich for Barcelona.

Catalan giants Barcelona’s continued financial issues could yet open the door for Chelsea to pounce on Lewandowski’s unsettled situation.

Lukaku’s impending departure could yet point manager Tuchel towards a more fluid approach without a clear focal-point striker.

Chelsea hold strong interest in Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, with the England forward open to leaving the Etihad Stadium with just one year left on his contract.

Chelsea’s next order of business after settling the Lukaku situation could well be to complete the long-mooted transfer of Sevilla’s Jules Kounde.

The France defender has made it clear for some months now that he is ready for the Stamford Bridge switch, but the two clubs will need to thrash out a fee.

Lukaku might have ended this season as Chelsea’s top scorer with 15 goals, but the vastly-experienced Belgium striker failed to live up to top billing.

A disastrous interview with Italian TV in December led to an apology to both Chelsea and the club’s fans in early January, after he had revealed his unhappiness in west London.

Despite several glimpses of hitting top form that never materialised, a move away now appears to suit all parties.

Lukaku is thought to have pushed for the move back to Inter in the end, and new Chelsea supremo Boehly has opted to clear the air by granting that switch.



FIFA has confirmed it is reviewing its gender eligibility regulations as world sports governing bodies scramble to establish policies that will make their competitions fair and inclusive across the board.

The inadequacy or absence of existing gender policies was brought into sharp focus this week when swimming body FINA announced a ban on athletes who have gone through male puberty from competing in women’s events.

In addition, FINA announced it would work to establish a separate open category for swimmers whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned when they were born.

A FIFA spokesperson said it was not in a position to go public on prospective changes to its existing gender policy, but confirmed a review is currently taking place.

The spokesperson said: “FIFA is currently reviewing its gender eligibility regulations in consultation with expert stakeholders.

“FIFA thereby takes guidance from many stakeholders (medical, legal, scientific/performance and human rights) as well as the November 2021 IOC Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations.

“Due to the ongoing nature of the process, FIFA is not in a position to comment on specifics of proposed amendments to the existing regulations.

“Should FIFA be asked to verify the eligibility of a player before the new regulations will be in place, any such case will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, taking into account FIFA’s clear commitment to respect for human rights.”

FA chair Debbie Hewitt acknowledged the difficulties in establishing a policy which would ensure the sport remained fair and safe whilst also respecting the rights of all those who wish to compete.

“I think it is a really tricky subject,” said Hewitt.

“We talk about inclusive but it has to be inclusive for everybody and it has to be fair, that’s the line that any sports administrator has to think about – is the competition fair and are we making sure that it is inclusion on both sides?”

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham indicated that existing reviews may conclude in separate policies concerning the elite level of the game and the grassroots.

“We have our own policy with grassroots we are working on at the moment and FIFA is doing a consultation for the elite of the game,” said Bullingham.

“There might be a slightly different approach to grassroots than you would have for elite.”



Arsenal have completed the signing of talented Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira.

The 22-year-old came through the Portuguese club’s youth system and has just helped Sergio Conceicao’s side win the league and cup double.

Vieira scored six goals and provided 14 assists in 27 league appearances last season for Porto, who he reportedly leaves in a deal that could reach €40 million (£34.36million).

Arsenal say the Portugal Under-21 international has signed a “long-term contract” at the Emirates Stadium, with the transfer subject to the completion of regulatory processes.

“I’m thrilled, of course,” Vieira said of the move. “This is an important step forward in my career.

“Arsenal is a huge and historic club, so I’m delighted to be here at my new home,” Vieira said.

“I feel it’s the right move in my career. I think it will be really good for me and I have no regrets about it. I’m thrilled to be here.”

Vieira becomes Arsenal’s second signing of the summer, having last week completed the acquisition of 19-year-old Brazilian forward Marquinhos from Sao Paulo.

Vieira will wear the number 21 shirt in north London, with his arrival welcomed by manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu.

“I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent,” boss Arteta said.

“Fabio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play.

“We welcome Fabio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season.”

Technical director Edu added: “We’re so pleased to have completed the signing of Fabio from FC Porto.

“Fabio is a player with special qualities who is comfortable with the ball in the final third of the pitch.

“We are all looking forward to working with him and enjoying his future contribution to Arsenal.

“We will now continue to work hard and are looking forward to finishing this transfer window as strongly possible.”

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Premier League champions Manchester City will begin the defence of their title at West Ham in the final match of the opening weekend’s fixtures.

Pep Guardiola’s side will start their bid for a fifth championship in six seasons at the London Stadium at 4.30pm on Sunday August 7th, after all their rivals have begun their campaigns.

Main rivals Liverpool go to Fulham in the Saturday lunchtime match, which pitches the Reds’ new signing Fabio Carvalho against his old club first up.

Old Trafford gets to see new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag first as the Dutchman opens his maiden season in England at home to Brighton on the Sunday.

Frank Lampard, who guided Everton to safety with one match to spare last month, comes up against his former employers Chelsea in the Saturday evening kick-off.

Nottingham Forest’s first match in the top-flight in 23 years will be against Newcastle at St James’ Park.

Promoted Bournemouth, who do not face a team outside last season’s top 12 in their opening five fixtures, host Aston Villa first game back before taking on City, Arsenal and Liverpool in consecutive matches.

For the second season running Arsenal have the honour of kicking-off the new campaign with a short trip to Crystal Palace on Friday, August 5th, when manager Mikel Arteta will hope to avoid last season’s chastening experience of a 2-0 defeat at newcomers Brentford.

Palace look like having one of the toughest starts of any club as after the Gunners they go to Anfield, host Aston Villa and then head to Manchester City.

Liverpool and City renew their rivalry at Anfield on October 15th – after a midweek Champions League tie – with the return fixture scheduled for April 1st.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to be impressed with their fixture allocation in conjunction with their European commitments.

Their three away matches following Champions League group games are Chelsea (September 17th), Arsenal (October 8th) and Tottenham (November 5th).

In addition to their trip to Anfield, City’s post-European away trips are Wolves (September 17th) and Leicester (October 29th), while they host Spurs on September 6th.

The final weekend before the mid-season break for the World Cup in Qatar sees all the traditional ‘Big Six’ kept apart, however, with the most high-profile fixtures being Chelsea’s trip to Newcastle and Tottenham hosting Leeds.

When the campaign resumes on St Stephen’s Day Leeds host City and United welcome Forest, with Newcastle fans faced with the longest journey of the day as they have a 376-mile round trip to Leicester.

The Manchester derbies take place on October 1st (at the Etihad) and January 14th (Old Trafford), while for a third year in a row Everton host the first Merseyside derby of the season on September 3rd with the return on February 11th.

Arsenal host the first north London derby on October 1st, with Tottenham’s home game against the Gunners on January 14th.

The final weekend of the season sees City head to Brentford, Liverpool away at Southampton, Tottenham visit Leeds and Chelsea host Newcastle.

All three promoted sides are away on the final day with Forest at Palace, Bournemouth at Everton – the ground where they were relegated to the Championship in 2020 despite a 3-1 victory – and Fulham travelling to Old Trafford.



Defender Nathan Collins scored a sensational solo goal as the Republic of Ireland emerged from their Nations League clash with Ukraine with a creditable draw.

The 21-year-old Burnley centre-half wove his way through the home side’s mesmerised ranks before firing past stranded goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk with the outside of his right foot in front of a largely stunned crowd of 10,641 in the Polish city of Lodz.

Collins’ first senior international goal was ultimately only enough to claim a 1-1 draw against the Euro 2020 quarter-finalists, to whom they lost 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium last week, after Artem Dovbyk levelled to ensure his side will sit at the top of League B Group One when they return to action in September.

A largely inexperienced Ireland team – with the notable exception of James McClean, who won his 94th cap – performed admirably at the LKS Stadium, with Collins, Dara O’Shea, Josh Cullen and Jason Knight particularly impressive to provide manager Stephen Kenny with further vindication of his vision.

Kenny was forced into reshuffles at the back and in attack, with Shane Duffy, John Egan and Michael Obafemi unavailable, and that meant starts for O’Shea, Darragh Lenihan, making his competitive debut, and, for the first time since September 2019, Scott Hogan.

Captained by McClean, who had joked at the pre-match press conference that the team chef had more chance of getting the armband, the visitors started on the front foot. with Troy Parrott’s early cross causing problems for keeper Dmytro Riznyk.

Ukraine, who had lined up with three at the back in Dublin last Wednesday evening, opted for four this time around, and that allowed the dangerous Mykola Shaparenko to adopt a more advanced role, although it was Ruslan Malinovskyi who tested keeper Caoimhin Kelleher with an 11th-minute snapshot.

However, the visitors should have been in front within seven minutes when Knight took advantage of Illia Zabarnyi’s slip to cross to the unmarked Parrott, who powered his header back across Riznyk but wastefully wide of the far post.

Kelleher was in action once again when defender Mykola Matviyenko’s 22nd-minute ball over the top put Vitaliy Mykolenko in behind wing-back Alan Browne, the keeper blocking the defender’s initial effort before Browne recovered to repel his follow-up.

Malinovskyi’s premature departure through injury and Mykhailo Mudryk’s arrival as his replacement saw Shaparenko drop back into midfield alongside Serhiy Sydorchuk, restoring the partnership which had proved so successful at the Aviva.

However, it was the playmaker’s 31st-minute pass which was picked off by Collins, who strode forward and eluded challenges from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Sydorchuk and Zabarnyi before stabbing the ball expertly past the advancing Riznyk to open the scoring in stunning style.

Full-back Oleksandr Karavaev blazed over from a tight angle and skipper Andriy Yarmolenko saw penalty appeals waved away by Turkish referee Ali Palabiyik after going down under O’Shea’s challenge as the home side responded.

However, Knight had forced a save from Riznyk in the meantime and the half-time whistle arrived with Ireland’s lead intact.

It remained so, however, for less than two minutes after the restart when Yarmolenko found half a yard beyond McClean to cross low and hand Dovbyk the simplest of tasks to level.

Lenihan drilled over after Josh Cullen’s free-kick had dropped invitingly for him, but Ukraine had their tails up as the midfield battle became increasingly physical and Ireland were left clinging on for dear life.

To their credit, they eased their way back into the came and Parrott saw a powerfully-struck effort deflected into the side-netting before Knight sent Riznyk diving across his goal once again.

A hugely entertaining game remained on the boil until the final whistle, but neither side was able to fashion a decisive moment as the spoils were shared.